• STOCKS

    Asian markets start week with rally, tracking US lead

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    HONG KONG: Asian markets rose Monday, tracking a strong lead from New York where two of the three main indexes closed at record highs.

    With little to drive business from Asia, investors followed their US counterparts, who remain upbeat that President-elect Donald Trump will introduce measures that will fire the world’s top economy.

    Friday’s US jobs report provided mixed signals as it showed fewer than expected posts created last month but that November’s figures were upgraded. It also said average hourly earnings rose from the prior month.

    On Wall Street the Dow moved to within 0.37 points of the 20,000 mark before easing back slightly but the Nasdaq and S&P 500 each ended at all-time highs.

    The upbeat readings filtered through to Asia, where Hong Kong added 0.3 percent in the morning, Sydney surged 1.2 percent and Singapore put on 0.4 percent.

    Shanghai and Seoul were marginally higher, while there were also gains in Wellington and Jakarta.

    Stephen Innes, senior trader at OANDA, said the focus would now be on a speech by Federal Reserve boss Janet Yellen on Friday, which would be pored over for clues about the bank’s outlook for its next interest rate hike.

    With Trump’s promises of big spending and tax cuts expected to fuel inflation, bets are on the Fed to hike rates at least three times this year, after December’s increase.

    “Given the markets focus on all things Feds, we could be in for bustling (Asia-Pacific) session at the end of the week,” he said.

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